Watch This: Homophones

on Thursday, May. 31st

WATCH THIS is a weekly column which highlights films and filmmakers from around the Web.

When I’m looking around the Web for videos to write about here, I try to cast a wide net and view all sorts of different films. I don’t really have a choice about that; the latest numbers indicate YouTube alone has 72 hours of video uploaded every minute. Yes, most of that is kittens and lip-dubs, but still, the sheer amount of video available out there makes it difficult to filter out what’s worth writing about.

I bring this up because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that I look for in an online film before commit to writing about it. Sam Sprynczynatyk’s short film, “Homophones,” seems a good example of the kind of film I like to see on the Web. At a mere ninety-three seconds, it is the sort of film one can watch in between bites of a sandwich, but one viewing isn’t nearly enough.

The film hinges on a very simple conceit. Every scene is a split screen, illustrating two homophones, or a pair of words that sound the same. The viewer will have to put in the teeniest bit of mental elbow-grease in order to pick up on exactly which two words Sprynczynatyk is illustrating before the film cuts to another set of words.

It’s a fun little exercise executed beautifully and minimally. What really strikes me is how this film begs to be viewed within a browser window. I’m sure the film would look just lovely on a ten foot screen, but I’m not sure that “Homophones” is as well suited to the big screen, say a festival shorts program, than it is to be viewed quickly while you’re browsing the Web or checking email. I’m as guilty as anyone of hitting play on a Web video and either giving up or switching to another tab/application while the video terminally plays down. When I started Homophones, I almost did that, but then I saw the fun in picking out the different scenes and I stopped everything else. I actually took my hand off of my mouse (a rarity) and sat back to play along.

So many of the films I see online have outsize expectations. These are films that would fit in a festival or are intended to go to theaters. But the Web, while providing access to a massive audience, should be treated as its own distribution medium. Web videos for Web video’s sake. “Homophones” is exactly that and it’s an absolutely charming little film.

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